WASHINGTON REDSKINS (0-1) AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (1-0)
SERIES HISTORY: 36th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 23-11-1. Washington won 24-10 in Week 2 of the 2015 season at FedEx Field. This is Washington's first visit to Los Angeles since Dec. 24, 1994. That was the Rams' last game in Southern California before the franchise relocated to St. Louis. They returned to Los Angeles last season. The teams have split four playoff games. They played a memorable playoff game in 1986 in which the Rams fumbled three times and star running back Eric Dickerson was run down by speedy Redskins CB Darrell Green on a 65-yard run.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Redskins must find more balance on offense. They couldn't run the ball against Philadelphia in Week 1 and that made it easier for the Eagles to attack with pressure and keep quarterback Kirk Cousins from finding any rhythm. That task won't get any easier against a Rams front that might include star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who could play Sunday after ending his holdout last week.
In Week 1, Washington ran it 17 times and threw it 40. If the running backs aren't up to the challenge, then quick passes to Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder might get Cousins and his receivers into a rhythm early and serve as a proxy for the run game.
Washington knows all about what Rams coach Sean McVay, Washington's former offensive coordinator, likes to run on offense. This will be a chess match. The Redskins have more speed on the field this year with Zach Brown, a Pro Bowler in 2016, now at inside linebacker next to Mason Foster and D.J. Swearinger at safety. The defensive line, led by rookie Jonathan Allen, held up well in the run game against Philadelphia, which was held to 58 rushing yards.
In Week 1, the Rams looked efficient in the passing game as nine players caught passes from Jared Goff. They need to use that as a catalyst to get Todd Gurley and the running game going. Gurley was held to 40 rushing yards last week.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Rams RT Rob Havenstein vs. Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan had his third career interception return for a touchdown against the Eagles on Sunday. But he and his teammates blew golden chances to sack Carson Wentz, who made them pay for missed tackles in the backfield. The same can't happen against Los Angeles' Jared Goff. Havenstein has the challenge of holding off the productive Kerrigan, who did half a half sack in Week 1.
--Redskins TE Jordan Reed vs. Rams LB Mark Barron. Barron is one of the most athletic defenders in the NFL and will be vitally important in slowing down Reed, who presents huge matchup problems with opposing linebackers and safeties in the Redskins' TE-heavy attack.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Rams DT Aaron Donald. The Pro Bowl lineman is expected to play after ending his holdout last week. Maybe the best defensive lineman in the NFL, Donald doesn't need much time to get ready. Donald leads all DTs with 28 sacks and 57 tackles for loss since entering the NFL in 2014. He has nine tackles and 1.5 sacks in two previous games against Washington. The interior of the Redskins' offensive line, especially Pro Bowl RG Brandon Scherff, will be tested.
FAST FACTS: Washington QB Kirk Cousins completed 85.2 percent of his passes for 203 yards and a TD in the last meeting. In his past 12 road games, he has 3,587 passing yards (298.9 per game), 22 TDs, six INTs and a 105.7 rating. ... WR Terrelle Pryor led Washington with six receptions and 66 yards in his team debut. ... Washington TE Jordan Reed caught six passes for 82 yards in the last meeting. Since 2015, he ranks second among NFL TEs with 17 TDs. He has three TDs in his past three road contests. ... The Rams' Sean McVay won his coaching debut last week against the Indianapolis Colts. The Rams' 46 points were the third-highest total in a coach's debut since 1933. McVay was Washington's offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2016. ... Rams QB Jared Goff completed 21 of 29 for a career-high 306 yards and a TD in Week 1.
PREDICTION: Goff seems to have adjusted to his new receivers more quickly than Cousins has, and the Rams' good defense could be boosted by Donald.
OUR PICK: Rams, 24-20.